Unexplained weight loss in dogs can be a sign of something serious. While most owners think of unhealthy weight as overweight, being underweight is also unhealthy. And unexplained weight loss in dogs can be indicative of several different things.
I recently came across a question about a Pitbull who had been steadily losing weight. The thing that struck me was that the dog had always been at a healthy weight, but his weight had been steadily declining, even on a diet of 4 cups a day. The weight loss was so severe that the dogs ribs and hip bones could been seen visibly. The other thing that struck me is that there was no mention of a vet visit.
Unexplained Weight Loss is Dangerous
Let me make that point perfectly clear. Unexplained weight loss is dangerous. It’s almost always a sign of something more serious than just diet. Because of the vagueness of the question I read, I have no way of knowing if the dog has been showing signs of nausea or diarrhea or any other symptoms, but just on its own, unexplained weight loss is a concerning thing.
Weight loss that cannot be attributed to a change in diet or a reduction in food can be a symptom of anything from diabetes to cancer, so it’s absolutely essential that a dog experiencing dramatic weight loss see a vet. Many times, what could be a treatable condition becomes something that has gotten so bad, the only remedy is to eliminate the dog’s suffering by putting him to sleep. That is the saddest scenario, especially when, many times, it’s preventable.
What to Look For
There are certain things to look for if your dog is showing unexplained weight loss before you take him to the vet. This is only for mild or beginning cases. Do not try to self-diagnose your dog if he’s already bony.
Are you feeding him enough?
If your dog is a growing puppy, he will require more and more food. If you feed him the same amount of food at 8 months that you did at 6 months, you’ll see weight loss, because there simply aren’t enough calories going into him.
Is your dog showing signs of nausea?
These signs can include excessive licking, a reluctance to eat, and drooling. If so, take him to the vet immediately, there could be something brewing in him. At the very least, he might have a food sensitivity.
Is your dog having diarrhea?
If so, the food you’re feeding him may not be agreeing with him. Again, take him to the vet, because diarrhea can be a symptom of other disorders, including cancer.
Are you feeding your dog a high quality food?
Many times, nausea, diarrhea, and unexplained weight loss can be the result of feeding sub-par food. In the case of the question about unexplained weight loss on the forum, the owner was feeding their dog garbage. Only feed your dog a high quality dog food like Iams, Science Diet, Purina One, Blue Buffalo, Natural Balance, and the like.
Talk to Your Vet About Unexplained Weight Loss
Even more concerning to me about the unexplained weight loss question in the forum was the fact that no mention was made of a vet visit. Your vet is there to keep your dog healthy, and if anything is wrong, you should always take him in. I have seen so many cases of animals who were brought in too late, and the only recourse was to put the dog to sleep. What makes that even more tragic is that in many of those cases, the dog could have been saved if his owner had brought him in sooner.
So if your dog has unexplained weight loss, take him to the vet immediately. It could be something as benign as an upset stomach or as serious as cancer. You’ll never know which if you don’t take him in.